Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Unconscious Sexism?

So the big issue in Doctor Who fandom these days is gender. Specifically, the clamor (mostly from the media) for the next regeneration of the Doctor to be female. Conventional wisdom sees that as a great idea and a boon for feminism.

It strikes me as exactly the opposite.

To be clear, I don’t think that I am anti-woman. I love playing with story and seeing things from multiple perspectives. I welcome the idea of an all-female retelling of “Ghostbusters.” I love when shows like “Buffy” turn gender stereotypes on their ear. (I also think Idris Elbe would make a wonderful next Bond.) The difference in those cases being that a story is being retold or reimagined.

In the case of “Doctor Who” the conceit is that this is one long story happening to a single being. (Albeit an alien who periodically regenerates into a new body with new personality traits.) It is, however, the same being with (largely) the same memories and values. If the Doctor were to suddenly, after 1000+ years, change gender, it would not be a win for women. It would render gender meaningless.

(I realize that a lot of “feminists” want exactly that… the nullification of gender. To me that seems to belittle women even more than they have been in the past.)

I would love to see more spin-offs exploring female characters in the Who universe. A female Time Lord would offer the perfect opportunity to explore new messages and themes. But to make gender a meaningless, interchangeable part of personhood would be the wrong path to traipse down. Doctor Who has a long history of wonderful, strong female characters. We want more of that, not a move that makes femininity an irrelevant, toss-away quality.

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